Jeffrey Dahmer: The Milwaukee Cannibal Who Murdered 17

Jeffrey Dahmer was a convicted serial killer and sex offender who murdered 17 males between 1978 and 1991. After they died, he would have sex with their corpses and then dismember them, often keeping their skulls, genitals, or other body parts as souvenirs. He also admitted to cooking and eating the flesh of at least one of his victims. Read our Jeffrey Dahmer wiki for more about the Milwaukee Cannibal.

Jeffrey Dahmer, aka the “Milwaukee Cannibal,” was a serial killer who maintained a massive Polaroid photo collection of his victims during the various stages of their murders. He sought out mostly African-American men at gay bars, malls, and bus stops, bringing them back to his home and giving them alcohol laced with drugs. It was then that he would strangle them. Dahmer was captured by accident by Milwaukee police in 1991 and was later sentenced to 16 life terms in prison. But he died just three years later, after being killed by fellow prisoner Christopher Scarver.

While no one can say for certain what caused Dahmer to act the way he did, this Jeffrey Dahmer wiki aims to provide insight into this unique case.

Who Was Jeffrey Dahmer?

Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer, the man who would become one of America’s most notorious serial killers, was born on May 21, 1960 at the Evangelical Deaconess Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His father, Lionel Dahmer, was working toward a degree in chemistry at Marquette University while his mother, Joyce Dahmer, worked as a teletype machine instructor.

It appears as though Dahmer had an uneventful childhood. And he was described as energetic and happy early on. All that changed, though, when the four-year-old was sent to the hospital with a double hernia. This apparently changed his disposition; he became withdrawn and subdued.

When Dahmer was six, his mother had another son, David. But Jeffrey and his brother David were never really close.

Molested by Neighbor at the Age of 8

In 1968, the family moved to Bath, Ohio. It was there that Lionel Dahmer alleged that his son was molested by a boy in the neighborhood. The alleged rape went unreported to the police. While there’s no way to pinpoint what eventually sent Jeffrey Dahmer on his murderous rampage later in life, there is no doubt that being raped at the age of eight would have negatively impacted his development.

By the age of 10 (1970), Dahmer was experimenting with dead animals, cutting the heads off rats and mice, bleaching chicken bones with acid, and nailing a dog’s carcass to a tree and mounting its head on a stake. He also kept the bones of chipmunks, squirrels, dogs, cats, and raccoons inside formaldehyde-filled pickle jars in his clubhouse.

His parents, while concerned, just assumed that it was all part of a healthy adolescence.

High School Outcast

By the time Jeffrey Dahmer was a freshman at Revere High School, he was seen as a disengaged outcast with few friends. In fact, most people tried to keep their distance from him because of his short temper.

Teachers recalled Dahmer as being polite and intelligent. His grades were average, but his teachers said this was a result of apathy. He also played tennis and was in the high school band for a stint.

It was around this time that Dahmer began to drink heavily, smuggling alcohol into school. One teacher recalls that Dahmer would often bring a Styrofoam cup into class, and that he reeked of scotch.

School officials never questioned him about this.

Unlikely Class Clown

At Revere High, Jeffrey Dahmer was an unlikely class clown. He would stumble through the local mall drunk, pretending to have seizures in front of strangers.

Classmates recalled that he was fun to watch, but more than a little frightening. Dahmer was a big guy and no one wanted to get in his way if his temper flared.

For fun, Dahmer also used to draw chalk outlines of bodies on the hallway floors of Revere High.

Product of a Broken Home

It wasn’t all fun and games for Dahmer in high school. During his senior year, his parents’ marriage came to an end. They blamed each other for “extreme cruelty and gross neglect of duty.” The divorce was granted on July 24, 1978, one month after their oldest son graduated from high school.

Because he was 18, the courts couldn’t tell him which parent he had to go with—and it doesn’t appear as though his parents were all that concerned about where he would live.

As for his younger brother David, the parents fought for custody. Joyce ended up getting full custody of David and they moved to Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.

Jeffrey Dahmer continued to live in the family house in Bath Township. His father moved out, leaving his son with no food or money. But he did have a broken refrigerator.

In the quiet of this home, Dahmer was left alone with his twisted fantasies. And those fantasies quickly turned to reality, with Dahmer committing the first of 17 murders.

A Timeline of Jeffrey Dahmer’s Murder Victims

Between 1978 and 1991, Dahmer operated as a predator, murdering 17 men and assaulting countless others. He mainly targeted gay men or youth.

After his arrest in 1991, the police suspected Dahmer’s involvement in a number of other murders or missing persons cases. However, the serial killer insisted they weren’t his doing. And no solid evidence was found to point to Dahmer.

One of the more high-profile cases they looked at was the murder and decapitation of six-year-old Adam Walsh in Hollywood, Florida. The murder of his son prompted Adam’s father, John Walsh, to seek justice for victims of violent crimes through his show, America’s Most Wanted. Eyewitnesses claimed to have seen Dahmer at the mall where Adam was abducted. However, police later announced that another serial killer named Ottis Toole had murdered the boy. They never pressed charges, as Toole was already in prison serving multiple life sentences.

It’s not just the fact that Dahmer was a serial killer that has fascinated the American public all these years. It’s the starkly horrifying nature of what he did with both the living victims and the corpses.

He would typically lure young men to his home with promises of alcohol or sex, or money in exchange for nude photos or sex. Once there, he would drug them and most often strangle them with his hands or a black strap.

He performed sex acts, including masturbation, with some of his victims’ corpses before or after he dismembered them. Dahmer also took Polaroid pictures of the victims before and after he killed them.

At first he would break up the bodies, dissolve some portions, and dispose of them, but later on he starting keeping grisly body-part trophies, usually skulls. He would usually paint these skulls so that visitors to his apartment wouldn’t realize they were real. He also kept genitals from some of his victims, which he preserved in jars.

According to his confession, Dahmer admitted to eating muscle tissue, a bicep, from one of his victims. He saved other parts from the same victim to consume at a later point.

When he was captured, Dahmer provided investigators with a glimpse into the terrible thinking behind his killings. He expressed feelings of emptiness, loneliness, and frustration to Detective Patrick Kennedy that he said were relieved by fantasies of killing at first, but then these thoughts escalated into real life.

He also told Detective Kennedy that he got physical pleasure from his victims while they were alive (alluding to the sex acts) and that, while he would have preferred them to stay with him while living, it was “better to have them with him dead than to have them leave.” Remember that Dahmer felt abandoned by his family.

It’s thought that the cannibalism was the next step in Dahmer’s delusional thinking. Consuming his victim would bring the two of them even closer, so he’d never be alone.

“You Don’t Forget Your First One”

Jeffrey Dahmer committed his first murder just days after graduating from high school in June 1978. He picked up a hitchhiker named Steven Hicks and took him back to his family home in Bath.

The two partied, Dahmer got Hicks drunk, and they had sex. But when Hicks tried to leave, Dahmer struck him in the back of the head with a barbell and strangled him. He later told investigators that he killed Hicks because he didn’t want him to leave.

Dahmer proceeded to chop up the corpse in the home’s crawl space, pack the body parts in plastic bags, and bury them. He then burned the man’s clothing and ID.

Fearing that he might get caught, Dahmer dug up the body at a later date and crushed the bones with a sledgehammer, scattering them in a wooded ravine.

Amazingly, Dahmer was almost caught by police after his first kill. He was driving to dispose of Hicks’ body when he was pulled over by police. The first-time killer was drunk at the wheel and had body parts in garbage bags in the trunk. As would happen on more than one occasion, the police let him go.

When he was eventually arrested for murder years later, Dahmer told police, “you don’t forget your first one.”

Enlisting in the Army

Even though Lionel Dahmer’s divorce was still fresh, he remarried a woman by the name of Shari, who was, by all accounts, the epitome of the wicked stepmother.  It was then that Jeffrey Dahmer decided to enlist in the U.S. Army. He was subsequently posted to Germany.

Things didn’t go as planned in Germany. Dahmer signed up as a medic, but he had problems being around blood. Did it remind him of his first kill? On top of that, the army medic started to drink more, spending his weekends getting drunk and rocking out to Black Sabbath and other bands.

Dahmer was dishonorably discharged for alcohol abuse in early 1981.

The Move Back to Wisconsin

Following his discharge from the army, Jeffrey Dahmer returned home to Ohio. His stay there didn’t last long; he was arrested for disorderly conduct and his father sent him to live with his grandmother in Wisconsin.

The young man’s troubles followed him to Wisconsin. It was here that a man passed Dahmer a note offering oral sex. This allegedly reignited his desire to kill. He also started to masturbate in public, after having stopped doing so previously.

He was arrested again in 1986 after two boys accused him of masturbating in front of them. For that, Dahmer was given a one-year probationary sentence.

In Wisconsin, Dahmer took to visiting gay bars and bathhouses. He put sleeping pills in people’s drinks and then raped them. After doing this a staggering total of 12 times at one bathhouse, he was permanently banned.

Second Victim, Steven Tuomi

With his sexual predilections getting stronger, Jeffrey Dahmer moved to visiting nightclubs.

On one such occasion, he met Steven Tuomi, 24. He took Tuomi back to his hotel room where the two drank and had sex.

Dahmer claims to have blacked out. When he awoke the next morning, Tuomi was dead with blood coming from his mouth. Dahmer said he was surprised to see Tuomi’s chest caved in.

He managed to stuff Tuomi’s body into a suitcase and called a taxi to take him back to his grandmother’s house. The cab driver asked him, “What do you got in there, a body?” Dahmer replied, “Yeah, I do.”

Dahmer dismembered his second murder victim’s body in his grandmother’s basement and masturbated on the corpse before disposing of the remains. But not all of the remains—with Tuomi, the killer kept his first trophy.

Dahmer kept Tuomi’s head wrapped in a towel and used it for his sexual gratification. After a few weeks, he boiled it in cleaning liquid; this caused the skull to fall apart.

Dahmer was never ultimately charged with Tuomi’s death because none of his remains were ever found.

Grandma Tires of Dahmer’s Loud, Drunken Ways

In October 1987, Dahmer killed 14-year-old Jamie Doxtator. The killer lured the teen to his home by offering to pay him for taking a nude photo. Doxtator was drugged first, then choked. He was dismembered and disposed of.

In March 1988, Dahmer drugged and strangled Richard Guerrero, 22, after bringing him home from the bar. The two engaged in sexual acts first. His body was dealt with in the same way as Doxtator’s.

Jeffrey Dahmer’s grandmother, oblivious to her grandson’s horrifying deeds, eventually tired of his late nights and drunkenness. So she kicked him out in 1988. He got his own apartment and continued his murder spree.

In March 1989, Dahmer drugged, strangled, sodomized, photographed, dismembered, and disposed of Anthony Sears, 24, an aspiring model. He kept Sears’ head and genitals as trophies and painted the skull gray.

Sentence for Sexual Assault of a Child

Two months later, in May 1989, Dahmer was on trial for child molestation. He had been charged with sexual exploitation and second-degree assault after picking up a 13-year-old Laotian boy. Dahmer pleaded guilty, saying the boy looked a lot older.

Dahmer told the courts at his sentencing that he was sorry and saw the error of his ways. He told them that the arrest was a turning point in his life. His defense attorney argued that Dahmer needed treatment, not jail. The judge agreed and gave him a one-year prison sentence on “day release.”

This sentence allowed Dahmer to work at the Ambrosia Chocolate Factory in Milwaukee, Wisconsin during the day and return to prison at night. Many have questioned whether Dahmer tampered with the chocolates at the factory, which has since shut its doors.

As is often the case, after just 10 months, a judge granted Dahmer early release. He moved back in with his grandmother for a short period before moving to his own apartment in May 1990.

Dahmer’s Trail of Devastation Continues

Dahmer showed up at the probation office every month, but his caseworker never visited Dahmer’s home, which would have been required. A spokesperson for the state’s Department of Corrections said that the requirement had been waived because Dahmer’s case agent was overworked.

This lapse on the part of the justice system was a factor in the further deaths at the hands of this budding serial killer who was about to ramp up his spree.

Only about a week after Dahmer moved into his own apartment again, he murdered his sixth victim. Raymond Smith was a 32-year-old male prostitute. The Milwaukee Cannibal followed his usual MO, by drugging and then strangling the man. He also kept Smith’s skull.

The next month, he murdered an acquaintance, 27-year-old Edward Smith, who also went by the nickname “Sheik.” Dahmer met Smith at a bar, offered him money for sex/photos, and took him back to his apartment. The pair engaged in oral sex before the killer drugged Smith and choked him to death. He discarded all of the remains and photos of this victim.

Three months after that, Ernest Miller, 22, met his gruesome fate at the hands of the serial killer. However, this time, Dahmer cut the victim’s throat instead of strangling him, because Miller was strong and the drugs weren’t as effective.  It’s reported that Dahmer kept Miller’s heart and other flesh in his fridge with the intention of consuming them. He also kept the skull, which he coated in enamel, plus the rest of the skeleton, which he cleaned and stored in a filing cabinet in his bedroom.

His next victim was David Thomas, 22. The killer lured Thomas back to his place from the mall, then drugged and strangled him. Dahmer didn’t keep any body part mementos of this victim, because he didn’t feel sexually attracted to him.

After a five-month break in the killing, Dahmer claimed another victim: 17-year-old Curtis Straughter. He kept several body parts from Straughter, namely the hands, genitals, and skull.

In April 1991, he murdered Errol Lindsey, 19, after a thwarted attempt to make him a kind of zombie slave. After drugging the youth, Dahmer drilled a hole in his head and poured hydrochloric acid into it. It didn’t work, so the serial killer choked the victim to death. As had become his habit, he kept the skull. He also tried to preserve Lindsey’s skin, but the attempt failed.

Police Escort Escaped Victim Back to Dahmer

On May 27, 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer’s neighbor called local police to say she saw an Asian boy running naked through the streets.

Dahmer, who came home from work, explained to his neighbor that the teen was his 19-year-old lover, and Dahmer tried to lead the incoherent youth back to his apartment. When two police officers, John Balcerzak and Joseph Gabrish, finally arrived, Dahmer told them that the young man was his boyfriend and that they’d had a fight.

The neighbor tried to explain that the youth needed help and was bleeding from his rectum. The officers, not wanting to get involved in a homosexual domestic disturbance, told her to “butt out” and “shut the hell up.”

They then walked the victim back to Dahmer’s apartment. They took a cursory look around the place before leaving. Had they done an even basic search, they would have found the body of Tony Hughes, 31. He was Dahmer’s 12th victim. After killing Hughes, Dahmer left his body lying around the apartment for a few days before dismembering him.

But the police did not look around. They left…and Dahmer carried on with his sadistic rituals, attempting to turn his “boyfriend” into a sex slave.

Dahmer was attempting to develop ways to turn his victims into zombie sex slaves. He would perform crude lobotomies, drilling into their skulls while they were still alive, and pouring boiling water into the holes. He eventually graduated to using muriatic acid.

The young Asian victim was later identified as Konerak Sinthasomphone, 14. His body was dismembered and stored in acid. He was the brother of the Laotian teen Dahmer had molested a couple years before that.

Dahmer’s Foray into Cannibalism

A month later, Dahmer took a trip to Chicago. That’s where he found his next victim, Matt Turner, 20. Promised a photo shoot, Turner traveled back to Milwaukee with the killer. Instead, he was murdered and dismembered. Dahmer stored the head and some organs in his freezer.

On July 5, 1991, tried some more of his gruesome zombifying experiments on 23-year-old Jeremiah Weinberger. Weinberger died from the tortuous experiment after lapsing into a coma.

Ten days later, the serial killer lured Oliver Lacy, 24, who he met on the street, to his apartment to take photos and for potential sex. He found Lacy, who was a black model and body builder, particularly attractive. Once he’d drugged and choked Lacy to death, Dahmer raped him. After dismembering the body, he kept the victim’s head, heart, and biceps. He later cooked and ate the right bicep, earning himself the gruesome reputation as the Milwaukee Cannibal.

Dahmer was finally arrested on July 22, 1991.

Milwaukee Police Accidentally Catch Jeffrey Dahmer

It’s safe to say that the police cannot really take credit for capturing Jeffrey Dahmer. In fact, his murderous rampage would have probably continued for years if yet another victim hadn’t escaped.

On July 22, 1991, Milwaukee police picked up Tracy Edwards, a 32-year-old African-American man. Edwards was found wandering the streets with a handcuff hanging from his wrist.

Edwards told them a “weird dude” had drugged and restrained him. Dahmer had handcuffed Edwards and approached him with a knife in his hand. Edwards ran to the apartment door and hit Dahmer in the stomach, knocking him down. Edwards ran and was later found by police.

After listening to Edwards’ story about Dahmer, police decided to investigate. Dahmer opened the door and offered to get the keys for the handcuffs. One officer, meanwhile, went to the bedroom to recover the knife that Edwards claimed Dahmer had threatened him with.

On the officer’s way to the bedroom, he noticed Polaroid photographs of chopped-up bodies lying around. Officers took action and subdued Dahmer.

After searching the apartment, they found a head in the refrigerator, three heads in the freezer, preserved skulls, pickle jars with genitalia in them, and other assorted macabre items.

The Trial of Jeffrey Dahmer

The trial of Jeffrey Dahmer began in January 1992. The cannibal serial killer was kept behind an eight-foot barrier of bulletproof glass. There were claims of racial bias after only one African-American was chosen to be on the jury—in a case in which most of the victims were African-American.

Lionel Dahmer and his wife Shari attended the whole trial.

During police interrogation, Dahmer had confessed to the killings, but in court he changed his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity. His defense concluded that Dahmer’s  gruesome behavior could only be accounted for if you concluded that he was insane. Dahmer was diagnosed as suffering from alcoholism and antisocial personality disorder, with obsessive-compulsive and sadistic components.

The jury was not convinced. They believed that Dahmer was in total control of his mental faculties and chose to commit the heinous crimes regardless.

On February 15, 1992, after 10 hours of deliberation, jurors returned with a guilty verdict.

Dahmer was sentenced to 15 consecutive life terms. A 16th life term was added in May 1992.

Had the jury found Dahmer to be insane, he would have been sentenced to a mental institution, where he could have petitioned for release every six months.

While in prison, Dahmer was kept away from other prisoners, but he eventually convinced authorities to allow him to integrate more with other inmates. It is alleged that Dahmer found God in prison and that the Columbia Correctional Institution gave him permission to be baptized by a local pastor.

Christopher Scarver, the Man Who Killed Jeffrey Dahmer

Despite finding religion, Jeffrey Dahmer continued to relish in his notoriety as a cannibalistic serial killer. He had a habit of fashioning limbs from prison food and covering them in ketchup to taunt fellow prisoners.

It seem that Dahmer could afford to antagonize his fellow prisoners; while out of his cell, there was always at least one prison guard protecting him at all times.

That is, almost all of the time.

On November 28, 1994, Dahmer was assigned to work with two other convicted murderers, Jesse Anderson and Christopher Scarver. The assignment was in accordance with his inclusion in regular work details.

Scarver, then 25, alleged that Dahmer and Anderson taunted him during their work detail. Scarver had retrieved a mop and was filling it with water when someone poked him in the back. When he turned around, Dahmer and Anderson, 37, were laughing under their breath.

“I looked right into their eyes, and I couldn’t tell which had done it.”

The three men split up, and Scarver followed Dahmer toward a staff locker room. He grabbed a metal bar from the weight room and confronted Dahmer on his past life as a necrophiliac serial killer.

“I asked him if he did those things ’cause I was fiercely disgusted. He was shocked. Yes, he was,” Scarver said.

“He started looking for the door pretty quick. I blocked him,” Scarver added.

He swung the metal bar twice, crushing Dahmer’s skull.

Scarver crossed the gym floor and went into a locker room where Anderson, who was serving a life term for killing his wife in 1992, was working.

“He stopped for a second and looked around. He was looking to see if any officials were there. There were none. Pretty much the same thing [happened] — got his head put out,” Scarver said.

Guards eventually returned and found that Scarver had beaten both men. Dahmer was pronounced dead about an hour later, while Anderson died days later.

Scarver doesn’t think it was an accident that he was left alone with Dahmer. Prison officials knew that Scarver was repulsed by the serial killer, who many prisoners wanted dead.

Scarver initially pleaded insanity for the murders, but changed it to no contest after being offered a transfer to a federal penitentiary.

He was given two life terms on top of the life sentence he was already serving for killing his former boss during a 1990 robbery.

Scarver maintains that he has mental problems, but, after being evaluated by as many as 20 prison doctors, no one has come up with a diagnosis. For his part, Scarver blames his issues on prison food.

“I found out in my own research what the problem is: Certain foods I eat cause me to have a psychotic break — bread, refined sugar,” he said. “Those are the main culprits.”

The man who killed the Milwaukee Cannibal spends his days writing poems and he has self-published poetry books for sale on Amazon.